It’s hard to deny the world has been totally transformed in an amazingly short period of time due to digital technology. Businesses, politics, media, society, economies, our cultures, as well as our families and our personal lives, have been and continue to be in a constant state of transformation. We are living in a new reality, a digital reality.
Prior to the digital age, the very existence of some companies was unthinkable. Today, the largest taxi company owns no taxis (Uber). The largest provider of lodging owns no real estate (Airbnb). The number one bookseller has practically no brick-and-mortar stores (Amazon). New digital companies rise to prominence in a matter of months and traditional companies continue to be driven to extinction.
Structures, strategies, and principles for doing business have been revolutionized. The traditional areas of business such as sales, marketing, product development, research, product production, and supply chain automation have all been impacted. Whole new areas of business such as data analytics, cloud computing technologies, and artificial intelligence did not even exist before the digital age.
The most successful leaders are creating cultures that evaluate, experiment and embrace change quickly. They are comfortable letting go of old, outdated processes and systems and organizational structures and then, as quickly as possible, create new ones.
Until very recently, the most common style of leadership in business has been command and control. It is, by its very title, dictatorial and militaristic in nature. It assumes the leader knows best and will provide astute direction to the team below must follow. Most people have worked in organizations dominated by this style and consequently become command and control leaders.
Looking back, historically, to the industrial revolution and the need to create large workforces to produce quality goods efficiently, command and control leadership was naturally appropriate. Until recently, innovation was much slower. Leadership had the luxury of more time to respond.
Leading in the digital age is dynamically different. Transformation due to new technology is rapid-fire and dramatic. Poor response time could result in loss of market share, competitive advantage and, in some cases, the very existence of the business itself. Change leadership in the digital world requires a new style of leadership.
Because challenges due to change attack quickly, well-informed decisions also need to be made quickly. This requires a higher level of resourcing from the team itself. The digital age leader must embrace the Enlightened Leadership style. Input with a greater range of perspectives and input sources results in better and faster decisions.
It is possible to embrace Enlightened Leadership while continuing to provide strong direction. Leadership is an art and a science. The art of leadership is knowing how to apply the science. The art of leadership is knowing how to apply the science. Enlightened Leadership solicits input and involvement and taps the greater potential that lies within the group. This allows for more expansive, creative possibilities and effective solutions for dealing with change.
The differences between command and control and co-creative leadership are clear.